Dave Allen was the most popular & successful Irish comedian ever. And worth remembering.
There isn’t one Irish stand up that doesn’t owe a huge thanks to Dave Allen. As the host of the most popular Australian and British TV comedy shows of his generation he successfully introduced the idea that – if the talent is there – an Irish voice has a natural place on English speaking TV.
After his death in 2005 Eddie Izzard said: “He was an original. He carved his own path. He was the first alternative stand-up to have his own show on TV and he was a torchbearer for all the excellent Irish comics who have followed in recent years’.
Born David Tynan O’Mahoney in 1936, Allen grew up in Firhouse, Dublin and left school at 16. He made his TV debut on ITV’s talent show New Faces in 1959 and several years on the stand-up circuit followed, including tours with The Beatles.
It was during a variety tour of Australia in the early 1960s that he made his debut TV appearance and the reaction was so strong that Oz’s No.1 entertainment broadcaster Channel 9 offered him his own chat show. The Tonight Show was a huge success and only ended when Dave returned to the UK to be with his new wife – British actress Judith Stott.
In the late sixties came his British TV shows – first Tonight With Dave Allen (ITV) and later the brilliant The Dave Allen Show (BBC). The next primetime BBC series Dave Allen At Large ran for eight years from 1971 and the mix of monologues (sitting on a stool with a glass of whiskey) and filmed sketches became one of the most popular comedy shows on British television.
His last TV show, simply titled Dave Allen, ended in 1994. He sadly passed away in 2005 aged 68.
See more of his more naughty sketches below, but as an entree here’s a classic BBC sketch that harks forward to the Mr Bean style of comedy where the visuals win out over dialogue. Stay to the end!
Dave Allen’s TV shows were often seen as ‘risque’ (making fun of sex & religion especially) and always broadcast after the 9pm ‘adult viewing watershed’. Here is a compilation of a small selection of his TV sketches. Warning – mild adult content … oooh aarh matron